sun 20/09/2020

Album: Aoife Nessa Frances - Land of No Junction | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Aoife Nessa Frances - Land of No Junction

Album: Aoife Nessa Frances - Land of No Junction

Irish newcomer’s translucent debut album is an early candidate for 2020’s best-of lists

Aoife Nessa Frances's 'Land of No Junction': crisp yet misty

What a lovely surprise. A debut album with its own sensibility that’s come out of the blue. Aoife Nessa Frances is from Dublin and the terrific Land of No Junction – the title comes from a mistaken hearing of Llandudno Junction – signals the arrival of a major new talent.

What a lovely surprise. A debut album with its own sensibility that’s come out of the blue. Aoife Nessa Frances is from Dublin and the terrific Land of No Junction – the title comes from a mistaken hearing of Llandudno Junction – signals the arrival of a major new talent.

This Land of No Junction borders on zones traversed by Kevin Ayers, Cate Le Bon, The Eighteenth Day of May, the pre-Sandy Denny Fairport Convention, Bridget St John, Stereolab, Sumie, Trimdon Grange Explosion and Wendy and Bonnie.

Highlights are many, but the nine-track album can be characterised. “Libra” is brilliant, a snappy folk rocker with a cascading riff along the lines of that of The Byrds’s “So You Wanna be a Rock ’n Roll Star”. The song sounds utterly modern, but nonetheless resonates with the ethos of the San Francisco ballroom scene. Its guitar solo channels early Jefferson Airplane. Frances’s yearning vocal line implies abstraction and distraction. The sparser, acoustic-based “Blow Up” is more direct and seems to have lyrics about Ireland in the run-up to the abortion referendum. Wobbly Mellotron lines using the flute setting increase the inherent impression of disquiet.

Throughout, everything is pin sharp. A crisp yet misty production places Frances’s voice within the instrumentation rather than above it to heighten the sense of mystery. Subtle, swooning string arrangements (shades of Honeybus and High Llamas there) sit with economical playing. The compelling melodies are never swamped. “Less is More”, which could be the album’s mantra, features precise “Tomorrow Never Knows” drumming.

For sure, Land of No Junction initially appears translucent but it draws from a deep knowledge of arrangement and music – both of which are effectively employed to present this singular new voice. One of 2020’s best albums, and it’s still only January.

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